A Requirement, Not An Invitation: How To Engage Students
Have you ever googled “How to engage students?” out of desperation or curiosity?
I have….and what I found was a lot of quick tips and how-tos. The problem is, I think that looking at engaging students comes from a deeper well than just trying some new techniques. Let’s be real – – if it were about a simple technique, wouldn’t we ALL be doing it and reaping the benefits right now?
While I don’t have the silver, magic bullet for you (Sorry!), I do know what you need to do to engage your students – or engage them in a bigger way this school year.
The secret? It’s all about you. I know it, you wanted me to make it about the students, but it’s really not.
Here are 7-Quick-Steps for you to implement RIGHT NOW to engage students in a way that you haven’t before:
- Realize that engagement starts with expectation. Treat students like they already ARE engaged…and they usually follow!
- Know that increasing student engagement is a habit. Don’t give up – if you expect it and then reinforce, reinforce and reinforce, you WILL see improvement in engagement. Don’t give up!
- When you see low levels of engagement or general apathy to the lesson, check yourself first. It might be that your energy isn’t very high or that you’re “phoning it in” without even knowing it! There is POWER in “acting as if”…as if you are pumped! As if you are ecstatic about the content! Put your acting game face on!
- Engagement isn’t natural – If you are using a new engagement technique, realize that you must teach it, model it and tell students when they’re going to use it – and then practice, practice, practice before you expect it to be done. Set kids up for success!
- Student engagement is built simultaneously on habitual use of engagement techniques AND keeping things interesting! Find a balance between using techniques that students are confident in, but switching it up periodically so they don’t become stale and “phoned in”. If you tune into your kids, you’ll know the exact point that you need to switch it up.
- Plan ahead for engagement. While you might catch a break periodically with some bird-walking or “teachable moments”, 95% of your engagement should be planned for. Ask yourself “Where do I need my kids to be super charged and into the content?” And then work to teach them what it looks like to be engaged.
- Don’t assume that students know what engagement looks like and feels like. I see that a lot of kids are struggling to engage because they don’t know what it is to be engaged! If you’d unlock the secret for them, I bet they’d be raring to go.
Here’s what I know for sure: If you invite students to be engaged or more engaged, there’s a possibility that they won’t choose to join you! BUT, if you structure your lessons so that they’re required to engage, you’re MUCH MORE LIKELY to see a big leap in engagement level. It’s up to you!